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Anne Garner – Be Life

Anne Garner - Fire #2

Anne Garner - Be Life

With her previous releases, Anne Garner has secured a very special place, right in the middle of the area where indie folk, singer-songwriter and ambient music overlap.

Since 2006 she has partnered with experimental music producer James Murray, who is also the label owner of Slowcraft Records.
Their collaboration resulted in the immensely beautiful set Trusting a Twirled World – released in a vocal as well as an instrumental edition.

Be Life – the successor of that 2011 album set, and again the result of the close collaboraton with James Murray – moves further along the same path … but somehow it feels as if Anne‘s otherworldy vocals are even more intense and intimate.

This is shamelessly romantic music, and also unmistakeably English in nature.
Anne’s soft voice (closely recorded as if whispering directly in your ear), the lyrics, and possibly most of all the arrangements are as reassuring as a new-found love.

“It’s folk when celebrating lives lived, the grass and the dew and the soil. It’s classical when steeped in an ancient hymnal timelessness. She draws on electronica an electroacoustic too, though these are songs in the truest sense; intimate arrangements leaving lasting personal impressions.”

 

James Murray‘s music is a perfect match for this setting. His arrangements fit the songs like a blanket, at times reminiscing some of the best of Brian Eno’s shorter song arrangements – which is especially clear in the instrumental tracks like Soft Eyes.

The songs feel personal, direct, and very touching – though that may be a personal thing of course.
It’s in the chord arrangements, the voice, the lyrics – all of these breathe a kind of naivety – but it’s  a naivety of a very mature kind!

I immediately fell in love with this album upon first listen. Repeated listening left me wondering how it could’ve possibly been that I had not heard of Anne Garner before!
But, with all her work being available still, it’s never too late to catch up, is it?


Also on Spotify

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Alio Die & Lorenzo Montana – Holographic Codex

Holographic Codex

Alio Die (Stephano Musso) is a prolific artist. His Discogs discography boasts no less than 52 albums since 1990, and those are probably not even all.
Many of those are collaboration albums: he has worked with a lot of famous artists, such as Mathias Grassow, Amelia Cuni, Robert Rich, Saffron Wood, Mariolina Zitta. 

Holographic Codex“, his first release for 2015, is a collaboration project with Lorenzo Montanà.
Montanà 
is not exactly a newcomer himself: the Italian soundtrack composer has also worked with a lot of artists in various musical fields. He is also known for his work on the Fax label, where he released his first solo album (“Black Ivy”) and the Labyrinth series together with Pete Namlook. 

Alio Die and Lorenzo Montanà fit together like hand and glove. The duo’s “transporting and alluring aural sceneries of evolving, intimate sounds” are a classic example of the sum being greater than both parts alone.

There are ‘mystical’ drones, intriguing beats. And there are mysterious vocals that sound like electronically induced overtone singing or a very distant choir.

“Distant echoes of ancient monastery, choral voices of lost languages, and musical structures of shifting melodic an textural passages reveal that Holographic Codex  is a secret code: a precise and skilfully crafted mantra of hypnotic sonic depth and symbolic fragments.”


ALIO DIE & LORENZO MONTANÀ – ETERNAL WISDOM

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Siren Song (Mix)

Lorelei

There is one special moment in this mix that defined its name and its theme: it is the moment around 23’30”, when Asne Valland Nordli‘s acapella voice finds its exact spot in the preceding tune by Field Recording. Two records that have nothing to do with each other and yet melt as if they were written at one session.
To me, these are truly magical moments.

At that point, I also realised that this mix was built around mysterious vocals. Vocals that may guide you, or lure you, into distances unknown. Often, but not exclusively, female, and some of them not even human – like the beautiful flute-playing by Jean-Christophe Bonnafous, or the mysterious singing sound of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that was recently discovered during the Rosetta space missions.
With just a little fantasy you can imagine the Philae Space Lander being attracted by the comet’s song – ultimately leading it to an untimely death.

Siren Song Sequence Scheme

(mix sequence)

This mix was broadcast on Bob Rusche‘s X-Ray” (X-Mas edition) on december 21, 2014 (Concertzender) – Thanks Bob & Concertzender!

Start – Length – Artist – Title
(Album Title, Release Year, Label #)

  • 00:00 2:39 Mendel Kaelen – Suñayaca Tãla
    (Sequence 8, 2014, Futuresequence SEQ008)
  • 01:51 01:41 Hildur Gudnadottir – Poka
    (Saman, 2014, Touch TO:96)
  • 03:16 00:54 Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin – End of the World Theme
    (Beasts of the Southern Wild OST, 2012, Thirty3 and a 3rd Records)
  • 03:28 04:06 Giulio Aldinucci – Fieno
    (Aer, 2014, Dronarivm DR-25)
  • 05:56 03:46 Iva Bittová – Fragment VI
    (Iva Bittová, 2013, ECM Records ECM 2275)
  • 07:13 02:55 Ambient Music Therapy – Sleep 3
    (Ultimate Sleep System, 2005, Self-Released)
  • 08:07 02:57 Above, Convenience Store! – Boneyard Stray Dog
    (Building in Search of the Sun, 2013, Sparkwood Records SR01)
  • 10:15 03:54 Penjaga Isaf – Pulang
    (Sama Sadja, 2010, Power & Steel PAS27)
  • 11:52 01:47 Andrew Skeoch & Sarah Koschak – Distant Bellbirds
    (Favourite Australian Birdsong, 2001, Listening Earth LECD 10)
  • 13:25 01:28 Andrew Skeoch & Sarah Koschak – Pied Butcherbirds
    (A Morning in the Australian Bush, 1996, Listening Earth LECD 9601)
  • 14:11 01:06 Ambrose Field – Technoform 7
    (Quantaform Series, 2013, Sargasso SCD28071)
  • 14:45 00:40 Andrew Liles – Tinder Box
    (Black Beauty, 2007, Beta-Lactam Ring Records MT127)
  • 14:54 05:02 Enrico Coniglio – Existenz Minimum
    (Areavirus Topofonie Vol. 1, 2007, Psychonavigation Records PSY 020)
  • 19:32 01:30 Cliff Martinez – Wrong Floor
    (Drive OST, 2011, Sony/Lakeshore Records 88691975162)
  • 20:36 03:21 Field Rotation – The Repetition of History
    (Fatalist The Repetition of History, 2013, Denovali DEN161)
  • 23:30 01:25 Asne Valland Nordli – Veverskens Tid
    (Over Tones, 2014, ECM Records ECM 2315)
  • 24:30 04:01 Darren Harper – Will My Memories of You Hold True
    (Suspended Memory, 2011, Self-released)
  • 26:48 04:06 David Toop – Disposal Chute Inoperative
    (Mondo Black Chamber, 2014, Sub Rosa SR385)
  • 29:39 01:57 Jack Dangers – Blast Off
    (Bathyscape Trieste, 2013, Primary Numbers PRIMA007)
  • 31:03 02:32 Andrew Liles – Aviophilia
    (In My Father’s House There Are Many Mansions, 2006, Fourth Dimension Records FDCD68)
  • 32:50 02:16 Rodolpho Alexis – Parabolic Amphibian Mix (Various Tree Frogs)
    (The Wire Tapper 34, 2014, Wire Magazine Issue 362)
  • 33:37 02:00 Lustmord – Babel
    (The Word as Power, 2013, Blackest Ever Black BLACKESTCD004)
  • 35:17 03:18 Desert of Hiatus – Trepidation’s Skin
    (Inconsolable Grief, 2014, self-released)
  • 37:51 02:56 Alogon – Snow
    (Wound, 2014, Under U.R. 08)
  • 38:49 02:29 Jean-Christophe Bonnafous – Alterina
    (Graines de Berceuses, 2012, Prokosnovénie, Prik144)
  • 39:28 02:23 A Day for Strange Birds – The Night Creeps
    (The Sound Between The Noise, 2014, self-released)
  • 40:40 02:16 Stefkovic van Interesse – Nebelmarsch
    (In the Fields, 2013, Self-Released)
  • 42:35 04:24 Pauline Oliveros – Watertank Software
    (Vor Der Flut – Hommage an einen Wasserspeicher, 1985, Eigelstein Musikproduktion, ES2025/26 CD)
  • 46:37 00:55 Paul Schütze – Sacred Agents
    (New Maps of Hell, 1996, Big Cat ABB 104 CD )
  • 47:02 03:31 Deaf Center – The Day I Would Never Have
    (Owl Splinters, 2011, Type TYPE080 )
  • 50:02 03:15 Mariolina Zitta – Sonar
    (Concert for Bats, Voices and Natural Sounds, 2007, Earth Ear ee6142)
  • 51:46 02:33 Max Eastley – Hydrophone String Installation
    (Installation Recordings 1973 – 2008, 2010, Paradigm Discs PD26)
  • 53:08 05:27 Ian William Craig – Either Or
    (A Turn of Breath, 2014, Recital 8)
  • 57:12 02:27 Mica Levi – Alien Loop
    (Under the Skin OST, 2014, Milan M2-36678)
  • 58:24 00:41 ESA Operations – A Singing Comet
    (ESA Operations Rosetta Mission, 2014, Soundcloud)
  • 59:00 00:47 Jon Hopkins – Distant Fire
    (How I Live Now OST, 2013, Just Music TAO056)


Download “Siren Song” Now  (59:40 min; 136Mb)
 

[DTS – Surround Version also available]

Or: stream it directly from Mixcloud:


 

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Ian William Craig – A Turn of Breath

iwcraig

“A collection that holds twelve works for voice and 1/4″ tape” is a description that immediately grasps my attention, especially when the performing artists is “a trained opera singer, delivering an elegant balance between theatrical and ambient sentiments”.
A Turn of Breath is my first encounter with the work of Ian William Craig.
And after a brief moment of “What-am-I-currently-listening-to!?”-confusion, this quickly turned out to be one of the most surprising releases I have heard in a long time.

The confusion came from the way Craig presents his recordings: a beautiful, well-trained voice, recorded using ‘faulty’ reel-to-reel devices, overlayed multitracks enhancing the distortion until it becomes like an instrument itself. The effect is mesmerizing and moving in a unique way.

Ian William Craig‘s private Bandcamp page lists five recent albums under his own name, but A Turn of Breath is presented as “his premiere LP”: this vinyl album (including digital download) is his first physical release.

At some moments, it sounds like audiophiles’ nightmare: the sound of faulty tape-recorders, loose cable connections, a completely worn out needle… all the sounds everyone always struggles to avoid are carefully placed in the foreground here. But behind that, struggling to work its way through, there are the – mostly wordless – voice and choir.

The process of amplifying decay though multitracking resembles the work of William Basinski, but on an emotional level this album is closer to Akira Rabelais’ “Spellewauerynsherde (2004) – which has always remained one of my all-time personal favourites.

So: be prepared and give it a try!

Also on Spotify


IAN WILLIAM CRAIG – A SLIGHT GRIP, A GENTLE HOLD, PT.1

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Pinkcourtesyphone – Description of Problem

Line eg 03

Richard Chartier – composer, sound artist, designer, LINE label curator – has released over 30 critically acclaimed albums under his own name since 1998, building himself an unrivaled status in the ‘reductionist’ electronic sound art field.

As Pinkcourtesyphone, he has released released music since 2012 with a somewhat different angle – the alias giving him some space for a slightly ‘looser’ approach:

“Pinkcourtesyphone is a more emotional, dare one say musical side of his work.
Pinkcourtesyphone is dark but not arch, with a slight hint of humor.
Pinkcourtesyphone is amorphous, changing, and slipping in and out of consciousness.
Pinkcourtesyphone operates like a syrup-y dream and strives to be both elegant and detached.”

Description of Problem is Pinkcourtesyphone’s fifth full CD album, and though it is presented with the usual relativisation, it will probably haunt you and your dreams for a long time.

The atmosphere is set by Chartier’s soundscapes (which are perfectly mastered by Stefan Betke, a.k.a. Pole). He (Richard Chartier) “monitors the call, offering the sounds of chiffon rustling, the buzzing void of messages never received, and the fey wonder of calculated desire and boredom.”

But the list of vocal collaborators “who join Pinkcourtesyphone’s party line for obsession and revenge musings and ache all down the wires” is what makes this album a definite classic.

Spoken word and musings are contributed by no less than William Basinski, AGF (Antye Greie-Ripatti), Cosey Fanni Tutti (Chris & Cosey, Throbbing Gristle, CTI), Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club, Cramps, Bad Seeds), and Evelina Domnitch.

At times, it’s as if the spirit of Nico hovers around (maybe partially due to the use of German language).
From the very first minutes this album grabs you, and it doesn’t let go until it finished 68 minutes later, loosening its grip with the cinematic string pad chords of “I Wish You Goodbye”, with Evelina Domnitch.

Still, the first thing that may come to mind after that is “I want more … everything … maybe too much”


PINKCOURTESYPHONE – IAMAPHOTOGRAPH
(Darkroom version)
with Kid Congo Powers

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VLNA – Turquoise Threads

VLNA

Before you start listening, answer this: what associations do you have with a band name like VLNA?

Personally, I prepared for somewhat ‘unpersonal’ and possibly even ‘harsh’ sounds when I started listening.

But I was in for a surprise:Turquoise Threads is an ‘impressionist vocal’ album – an album with spoken words fragments, humming, whistling, intertwining with ‘a thick veil of atmospheric noir from threads of adapted violins, guitar’ (and electronic treatments).

VLNA are an unknown duo: two anonymous artists (at least one of them female) that have been recording music since 2008 via online file transfer (and haven’t met until years later).

“The concept behind this work is sound-exchange and a record that could be made by any two people who had never met before in person, but communicating through different channels and producing sound as pieces of information sent back and forth. It sounds like a stream, a flux of sounds going from one end to another.”

In this day and age, the on-line exchange is a well-known way of collaborative music-making. But I doubt if this album really could have been made by ANY two people who had never met before’: these two unknown (?) artists clearly share their vision on what their music should sound like.

Apart from the opening track on the Earthtones” compilation, this is VLNA‘s debut.
With a playing time of 25 minutes, it’s relatively short, but it’s impressive enough to hope there will be more like this in the future.

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Marina Rosenfeld – P.A. – Hard Love

Hard Love

Apart from being an ‘ambient-electronic’ music addict, reggae music- and especially dub music – has been playing a major role in my musical life. There is a distinct crossover area between experimental electronic music and experimental dub reggae, as demonstrated by genius artists like Lee Perry and Bill Laswell (among others, of course).
Dub Music, rooted in reggae, is often very experimental music.

I have heard a lot of ‘ambient’ music cross over to different styles, up to the simple fact that there is no clear definition of what ‘ambient’ music is any more.
But to my own surprise I wasn’t really prepared for Marina Rosenfelds approach on her recent ROOM40 release P.A. / Hard Love“.

Just try to imagine some (fairly radical) sculptural soundscapes with voice-overs by Warrior Queen (Annette Henry), recorded in Kingston, Jamaica. Can you? I couldn’t.

But on the other hand – this may not be as strange as it seems.

Between 2009 and 2001, “New York based composer and conceptualist” Marina Rosenfeld has been developing “an idiosyncratic sound-system, a quasi-sculptural assemblage of customized horns and subs which she called simply P.A. She used the system to reposition resident noise from the sites alongside traces of her own voice.”

For this particular (vinyl) release, Warrior Queen was invited to contribute her vocals, which “acted as catalysts for transformations, propelling the original compositions in new and unexpected directions”.

If, by chance, you are familiar with the previous works of Marina Rosenfeld, such as her 2009 release Plastic Materials”, this use of (seemingly) improvised vocals over abstract soundscapes may feel like a logical progression. But even then, these sounds definitely kick you off the beaten track, forcing you to redefine any genre-definition you knew before.
Radical sounds, indeed. Just don’t expect to find yourself dancing to it.


MARINA ROSENFELD – NEW YORK/IT’S ALL ABOUT

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Chris Dooks – 300 Square Miles of Upwards


300 Square Miles

Shortly after the release of The Eskdalemuir Harmonium”, Chris Dooks releases the second part of what will become a colourful Idioholism trilogy.

300 Square Miles of Upwards” is released in a stunning package (designed by Rutger ‘Machinefabriek’ Zuydervelt): a bright blue vinyl 12″ album that also comes with an (extended) digital download version including a video version of the opener track ‘Gardening As Astonomy’.

The brightly coloured trilogy is not only interesting artistically and musically. It is is also the result of Dook’s personal battle against his chronic fatigue syndrome:
“Wherever medicine has abandoned its caring role, or simply has no available cure, sufferers of incurable chronic illnesses frequently turn to experimental and experiential strategies. Such strategies can seem an outlandish or surreal response to illness; for example, working closely with an abandoned and decrepit harmonium in the Scottish borders or forging Twitter-length statements about the universe may not be on the medical map, but to artists, these processes are a way of life. Within three main inter-reliant art projects, this autoethnographic experiment is not just occupational therapy for the afflicted, but a path of discovery by first-person experience.”

The preceding release was a poetic investigation of the sounds of a forgotten and somewhat deteriorated harmonium.
On300 Square Miles of Upwards”, Dooks investigates the relation of astronomy with earthly phenomena:
“I read somewhere recently that one reason we know that the su’s solar energy peaks in 13 years ejections is because the trunks of felled trees have thicker bark around these periods”.

The tracks are created from vocal samples (most from Scotland, but also in Polish and Japanese) that are cut-up and looped and merged with the additional background of environmental field recordings, three pianos and a Korg Monotron. The way Dooks re-arranges the samples and builds an atmosphere with is almost visual, which should be no surprise regarding Chris’ experience in photography, film and TV.

With these selection of tracks, Dooks paints deeply emotional pictures that, at some moments, reminded me of the early (tape) works of Steve Reich or Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”.
Just listen to “Conversation with a Boy” (below) to hear what I mean.

Tracks featuring spoken word samples are different from instrumental ambient tracks in that they require a more dedicated, active listening – they can’t simply be played in the background and be ‘ignorable’.
But it’s rewarding to do so.
When you listen closely, your world will look different afterwards.


CHRIS DOOKS – CONVERSATION WITH A BOY

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The Dwindlers – Allegories

Dwindlers

Following up Leonardo Rosado’s “Mute Words, this is the second release on the Heart and Soul label, which was founded to release projects that combine music and poetry.

The Dwindlers are a duo consisting of Michelle Seaman, poet, and Benjamin Dauer, composer and multi-instrumentalist. Although they have been working together since 2002, Allegoriesis their second album, following up their 2010 debut release Dreams”.

There are seven tracks – six vocal tracks divided by a beautiful ambient instrumental track called “Pickering’s Hyla“.

Benjamin Dauer’s main instrument is the acoustic bass, creating the basic rhythm which is further coloured with atmospheric ambient sounds that perfectly fit Michelle Seaman’s incredibly sultry vocals.
To me, her voice has about the same hypnotic quality as Laurie Anderson’s, especially in the slow, dreamy tracks.

“‘Allegories‘ is an effort to change stories of pain and fear into stories of grace. Inspired by the elegant movement of animals, birds, and insects, this collection hopes to charm, and sometimes challenge, the listener.”

It will be released on March 15, 2012, and will be available as a digital download, but also in a limited physical (paperbook) edition of 50. Because of the limited physical release, pre-ordering is advised if you want a physical copy.


The Dwindlers – Peacock and the Kitty

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Kleefstra-Pruiksma-Kleefsta – Deislieper

deislieper

Deislieperis the third release in what I like to call the Kleefstra Wire Trilogy“.
In fact, there’s no real ‘trilogy’, but three separate albums that were presented by three independent labels on one single advertising page in Wire Magazine: “Wurdskrieme(on Experimedia). Tongerswel”  (on Home Normal), and now Deislieper(on Hibernate).

“Deislieper”, by the way, is a Frisian name for the nightjar and literally it means ‘day sleeper’

Rooted firmly in the improv scene, core members Jan (poetry) and Romke (guitar, effects) Kleefstra never work alone.
With Piiiptsjilling, most of the contributors were Dutch fellow musicians (like Rutger ‘Machinefabriek’ Zuydervelt, Mariska Baars, Chris Bakker), but soon they also started playing with an international cast of musicians like Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Greg Haines (on the Seeljocht project).
Tongerswel presented their work together with saxophonist Gareth Davis, and now Deisleeper features the incredible percussion music by Sytze Pruiksma.

Packed in a strikingly beautiful white digipack (designed by Antonymes, based on photography by Ruurd-Jelle van der Ley), this albums contrasts quite heavily with the dark layout of Tongerswel. In another way, however, they fit together perfectly. 

While the basic musical ingredients are not very different from what you might expect after the previous releases (slow guitar soundscapes and a dreamy vocal performance of the, mostly rather dark, Frisian poetry), the album definitely gets its own identity from Sytze Pruiksma’s percussion.

To get an idea of his percussion craftsmanship, you may watch this session recording from last summer’s Into the Great Wide Open festival (also featuring the Kleefstra’s and Peter Broderick). (I know I’ve published this link before, but the session is too beautiful not to be seen!)

2012 Will probably bring numerous new projects involving Jan and Romke Kleefstra.
But for now, 2011 has been an incredibly productive year for Jan and Romke Kleefstra.

I don’t know if any award for Frisian Culture Export Products exists, but if it does, these guys definitely should be nominated!

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